The IOC+D Is Changing! For Better or Worse?

Article by: Olivia R.

Edited by: Kylie C.

“What’s wrong, Olivia?” My friends surrounded me as I tried not to cry; their overwhelming sympathy was comforting.

“My IOC is in twenty minutes,” I sobbed. Immediately, their sympathy dissipated.

They rolled their eyes. “It’s just an assessment.”

If it was just an assessment, why was I so stressed?

What is the IOC?

The IOC+D has been robbing HL Literature students of sleep (and health!) for years. Standing for Individual Oral Commentary and Discussion, the IOC+D requires students to annotate one of roughly 20 poems while supervised for 20 minutes. They are then escorted to their English teacher to talk about the poem they annotated for 10 minutes. Finally, they discuss one of two books that they analysed in class, and are expected to support their discussion with memorized quotes and highly specific examples from the text for another 10 minutes. Overall, the IOC+D lasts 40 minutes.


The assessment doesn’t sound deadly, but the catch is that students are not allowed notes and have no idea which poem or which book they will have to analyse until the IOC+D itself. Because of this uncertainty, students spend hours annotating poems and memorizing practiced commentaries, quotes, and points of discussion. Adding on to the stress of not knowing what they will encounter, the IOC+D also accounts for 15% of a student’s grade. To young high school students, the IOC+D seems like a mythical monster that will devour their GPA and their self-confidence.

However, this is all about to change.

The new IOC

The new IOC has students choose two literary texts: one translated piece and one English piece. Students have to exemplify a connection between these two texts and link this to an issue of global significance (such as war or poverty). The student is allowed to prepare 10 bullet points and must talk about these points for 15 minutes. This IOC is worth 25% of their final IB grade.

When I asked a senior in HL Literature for her input, she said, “I appreciate the IOC+D, it really helped my analysis skills [develop], but I think that being able to choose your texts helps you connect more to the pieces and hopefully understand them better. I think I would have preferred the new IOC. Also, notes! Why didn’t we get those?”

I can’t help but agree. As time goes on, everything is supposed to improve; the IB is no exception. While the new IOC sounds like it will really help students connect with their pieces and perform well, I am a little sad that incoming HL Literature students will never feel the fear and uncertainty we did. While succeeding in the new IOC is still no easy feat, being able to prepare takes a big deal of stress off of students’ shoulders. I mourn the fact that our effort, pain, and stress will not be remembered.